Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles bigraphy, stories - American poet

Eileen Myles : biography

1949 –

Eileen Myles (born 1949) is an American poet and writer who has produced more than twenty volumes of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, libretti, plays, and performance pieces over the last three decades. Myles is described as "one of the savviest and most restless intellects in contemporary literature." In 2012 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete Afterglow (a memoir), which gives both a real and fantastic account of a dog’s life.



By her own account Myles moved from Boston to New York in 1974 "to be a poet."http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/eileen-myles She quickly became part of a group of younger poets surrounding St. Mark’s Poetry Project. Myles’s first book, The Irony of the Leash, was run off by Jim Brodey on the mimeograph machine in the office of St. Mark’s Poetry Project in 1978. Immediacy remains a hallmark of Myles’s aesthetic.

In 1977 and 1979 Myles’s published issues of dodgems, a literary magazine. The title referred to the bumper cars of Revere Beach, MA, and served as a metonym for the collision of aesthetic differences that characterized the poetry scene of that time. dodgems featured poems by John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Charles Bernstein, a letter from Lily Tomlin, and an angry note from a neighbor. Both issues of dodgems were exhibited in vitrines in the New York Public Library’s 1998 show, "A Secret Location in the Lower East Side – Small Press Publishing: 1966-1980."

Myles’s third collection, A Fresh Young Voice From the Plains, earned her first major review by Jane Bosveld in Ms. (magazine).

Not Me (Semiotext(e) 1991) is Myles’s most popular collection of poetry.

Maxfield Parrish/early and new poems (Black Sparrow 1995) is a collection of both new and selected poems that explore the surreality of sex.

In 1995 Myles co-edited The New Fuck You/adventures in lesbian reading with Liz Kotz, which in its multi-genre approach and postmodern focus on reading, rather than identity, offered something different from the heap of gay and lesbian poetry anthologies coming out in the 1990s.

School of Fish (Black Sparrow 1997) is the first work wherein Myles’s dog, Rosie, appears like a second camera in the poem’s field of vision.

Myles published Skies (Black Sparrow 2000) with the single restraint that each poem published had to include the sky in some way. The book is framed by a transcript of a panel at The Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown (Massachusetts) with Helen Miranda Wilson, Frances Richard, John Kelly, Molly Benjamin, and Jack Pierson, who each spoke about their own relation with the sky.

On My Way (Fauxpress 2001) concludes with an essay about speech and class, "The End of New England."

Snowflake/different streets (2012 Wave Books) uses the technique of dos-à-dos binding to combine two distinct collections of poetry in the same physical book. In Snowflake the poems work through the insularity of a technologically-charged landscape, with different streets marking a relational entry, and reentry, into the common world.


Though Myles’s primary intention was to be a poet, she was also moved by the New Journalism of the sixties and seventies and the art writing tradition by poets of the New York school. In the eighties Myles began to publish personal journalism, book reviews, and art reviews. Her early columns appeared in the Poetry Project Newsletter, where she published her essay "I Hate Mimeo," which called for an end to the same publishing format in which her essay appeared. In the nineties she had a monthly column in Paper Magazine.

She was a notable figure on the poetry and queer art scene that developed in the eighties and nineties Lower East Side, and her early book and theater reviews appeared in New York Native, Outweek, and Out (magazine). Later Myles would publish essays, article, and in the Village Voice, The Nation, Artforum, Parkett, and Art in America.